State Rep. Charlie Geren practically assured himself of a tenth term, beating Bo French Tuesday night in what was one of the most bitter primary races in this election cycle.
Geren received 7,909 or 56.8 percent of the total votes cast in the 99th District primary, according to totals kept by the Texas Secretary of State. French received 6,014 or 43.2 percent of the vote.
Geren will face Democrat Michael Stackhouse, a Fort Worth real estate agent and first-time House candidate, in the November 6 election. Stackhouse was unopposed in the primary.
Contacts made by The Texas Monitor to Geren and French requesting comment were not returned by publication time.
Geren, chairman of the powerful House Administration Committee and the last incumbent of the allies of House speaker Joe Straus, spent more than $900,000 on the primary race through Feb. 24, according to the most recent campaign finance report filings with the Texas Ethics Commission. French spent more than $400,000 during the same period.
By the time the final reports are filed, the Geren and French campaigns are likely to have spent at least three times the $500,000 spent on the modern Texas House race.
The spending was fueled in no small part by Geren and French accusing each other’s campaign of dirty tricks reported recently by The Texas Monitor.
Geren blasted what he said was the misleading design of a mailer that questioned the potential for conflicts of interest between Geren and his wife, Mindy Ellmer, a well compensated legislative lobbyist.
Geren told The Texas Monitor that Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of Empower Texans, the advocacy group that distributed the mailers, was a liar, although he didn’t challenge the accuracy of anything on the mailer.
Geren also told a reporter on election night that “Cisco and Midland don’t own Tarrant County. Tarrant County is very independent, and we don’t need somebody else telling us what to do.”
The Midland referred to by Geren is home to Tim Dunn, an oil company executive who is the chief backer of Sullivan and Empower Texans, which has donated more than $200,000 to the French campaign. The Cisco reference is to Farris and Dan Wilks who have begun to spend some of their fracking billions on candidates challenging the more moderate conservatives who have in the past supported Speaker Straus.
Sullivan was clearly delighted with the attention given to the mailers and with Geren’s ire. On Wednesday, Sullivan did not respond to a contact from The Texas Monitor asking for comment on the outcome of the primary.
French continues on with a lawsuit filed by he and his wife, Sheridan, in December charging that a campaign supporter of Geren’s made a false report about him to the state’s Department of Child Protective Services, a few days before French and Geren faced off for the first time in the 2016 Republican primary.
A week after he discussed the suit and the campaign with The Texas Monitor, French issued a detailed statement based on depositions of the campaign supporter and others involved in the suit. In it, he refutes the allegations made in the complaint to CPS.
“This is again a new low for Charlie Geren,” the statement read. “Geren’s staff must be held accountable for weaponizing CPS in the 2016 race. It defies all decency that they are attempting to weaponize it again in the 2018 campaign.”
Mark Lisheron can be reached at [email protected]